In my blog post, I Was A Finance Fraud, I talk about my two year battle with imposter syndrome.
It’s something that I hid in shame the entire time I worked in Corporate Finance and that wreaked havoc on my mind, body, and spirit. I felt like a complete fraud and that any moment I was going to be found out and fired because I had been faking the whole time. It was irrational and completely untrue, yet I believed it down to my core and I could not shake the feeling.
What exactly is imposter syndome? According to this Fast Company article, imposter syndrome is a “psychological phenomenon [which] reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.”
Now that I am a Master Life Coach and Motivational Speaker, I’ve had the time and space to reflect upon my work in Corporate Finance and why exactly I felt like such a fake. The truth of the matter is I was actually pretty good at being a Senior Financial Analyst. In fact, one of my business partners called me an Excel goddess, a compliment which totally had me in tears because I felt nothing could be farther from the truth. To my credit, I could index(match) with the best of them. What I didn’t know I learned about and practiced until I got the hang of it.
I know now that no one expected me to know everything about Corporate Finance. It was an unbelievably excruciating amount of pressure that only I was putting on myself. I didn’t see that when I was in the thick of it, though. Hindsight = 20/20, no?
I realize now that I wasn’t alone. There are many successful people who are really amazing at what they do and yet they themselves don’t feel successful. Real talk: external success means nothing if you feel like a failure on the inside. Imposter syndrome robs you of your daily joy because you’re drowning in self-doubt and fear.
Here are the three tips that I wish I could have given myself during that stressful time on how to crush imposter syndrome once and for all:
1. Objectively assess the situation.
When you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, you’re thinking some really irrational thoughts about your worth, what you bring to the table, how you’re doing, and what others think of you. In all actuality, you are probably suffering from an acute sense of perfectionism. You’re trying to live up to an ideal that 1) doesn’t exist 2) doesn’t need to be met in the first place.
Nip that talk in the bud by talking to others, especially those that are responsible for giving you feedback on your performance.
If you haven’t already, establish weekly 30 minute check-ins with your supervisor where you can brief him/her on your progress, ask questions about any obstacles you’re facing, get real-time feedback and updates on expectations, etc. If you find that you need more time with your supervisor to help you cope, confirm if (s)he has an open door policy or if you should schedule daily time on his/her calendar on an as needed basis.
Also, don’t worry if you feel like a bug-a-boo, either. Your supervisor should want you to be successful in your role because that is a direct reflection on his/her performance as a manager. Your manager should want to see you win because that is a win for the team. (S)he will let you know where you can improve and help you identify people within the organization or at large that can help you do so.
Talk to your co-workers and business partners about ways that you can improve your contribution to the team. Furthermore, find out what would make life easier in terms of any projects you’re working on together, workflow, etc. By keeping in communication with the people around you, you can figure out where you can improve your skill and make life easier for everyone.
Imposter syndrome multiplies in isolation, so it’s very important that you keep communicating with others, especially because you’ll want to shut down and brood in silence. Every time you feel this mindset moocher taking over, leap into action.
2. Think on purpose.
In my blog post, The Simple, Impactful Strategy That Helped Me Change My Life, I talk about how important it is to monitor the thoughts we’re thinking and the words we are speaking. Self-limiting beliefs are most powerful when you’re not aware of them.
Once you shine the light of your self-awareness on these vicious thoughts, you can start inputting positive, life-affirming thoughts into your mind. The same way that you worry about the contents of and double check the grammar of a presentation deck is how you want to approach the thoughts you’re entertaining. If it doesn’t affirm you, it’s got to go. No more mindset mooching, Honey Bunny!
In addition, I love to use mantras for everything. A mantra is a sentence that is repeated several times. The word literally translates to “mind vehicle.” Mantras help you to get in the driver’s seat of your life and point you in the direction you really want to go. Louise Hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Life, has been a game changer for me and I now repeat many of the affirmations in her book on a hourly basis.
You’ve got to get your head in the game and think on purpose. Imposter syndrome is a sneaky mindset moocher and it can rob you of your peace, joy, and presence, if you’re not on guard and consistently changing the tune in your head.
3. Take care of yourself.
When I worked in Finance, I did not take care of myself. I worked from sunrise to sunrise pretty much seven days a week. I rarely left my desk except for meetings and I ate lots of fast food and did not get enough rest. I let my yoga practice slip and I rarely spent time with my loved ones.
In other words, I always felt like shit.
In true Finance fashion, I decided to see what is possible in terms of important tasks versus the number of hours in the day/week.
The results are astounding -- even if I had worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week, I still would’ve had time for 7 hours of exercise, 7 hours of food prep, 3.5 hours for time with loved ones, etc. on a weekly basis.
If I’m honest, I felt crappy because I made my work a priority and everything fell by the wayside, especially my own self-care. Had I been more diligent, put myself on my own calendar, honored my personal commitments with the same intensity that I honored my work ones, I probably would’ve been singing a different tune.
I don’t pretend to know your personal situation and I’m not suggesting that you can micromanage your day to fit everything in and, voilà, everything is perfect. I just want to emphasize that you can and should prioritize yourself in your own life.
It’s hard to feel like an imposter when you’re living a life that is authentic to who you are. Real talk: life happens outside of the office. If you’re not careful, you’re going to feel crappy at work AND miss out on some amazing moments, too.
Honey Bunny, at any given moment, you are both a masterpiece and a work of art. That’s a good thing. You are worthy of your dreams and you are enough just the way you are. You are also always evolving into the best version of yourself. Work as hard you can AND cut yourself some slack. You’re probably doing better than most of the population on earth. Put it into perspective, boo.
Now it’s your turn. Comment below and let me know how you deal with imposter syndrome.
I’m cheering for you. Like you’re Tootsie (I loved that movie as a kid).
From the Front Row,
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